NTS LogoSkeptical News for 3 December 2004

Archive of previous NTS Skeptical News listings


Friday, December 03, 2004

WHAT'S NEW

Robert L. Park Friday, 3 Dec 04 Washington, DC

COLD, COLD FUSION: SO AFTER 15 YEARS, WHAT HAS BEEN LEARNED?

We've learned that DOE should stop playing games with the Federal Advisory Committee Act while shrouding its review in secrecy http://www.aps.org/WN/WN04/wn091704.cfm. Beyond that, we haven't learned much. The report released this week is an attempt to summarize individual comments from 18 unidentified reviewers. The conclusions at the end of the report were: 1) "significant progress has been made in sophistication of calorimeters," and 2)"conclusions reached by reviewers today are similar to those found in the 1989 review." That's it? After 15 years we've got better calorimeters? The 1989 review called for no more cold fusion research. Good advice. Proponents now prefer "low energy nuclear reactions," but "no more" is still good advice.

PRAYER STUDY: COLUMBIA PROFESSOR REMOVES HIS NAME FROM PAPER.

We have been tracking the sordid story of the Columbia prayer study for three years http://www.aps.org/WN/WN01/wn100501.cfm. It claimed that women for whom total strangers prayed were twice as likely to become pregnant from in-vitro fertilization as others; it was published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine. At the time we were unaware of the background of the study, but knew it had to be wrong; the first assumption of science is that events result from natural causes. The lead author, Rugerio Lobo, who at the time was Chair of Obstetrics, now says he had no role in the study. The author who set up the study is doing five years for fraud in a separate case, and his partner hanged himself in jail. Another author left Columbia and isn't talking. The Journal has never acknowledged any responsibility, and after withdrawing the paper for "scrutiny," has put it back on the web. Nor has the Journal published letters critical of the study. Columbia has never acknowledged any responsibility. All of this has come out due to the persistence of Bruce Flamm, MD. The science community should flatly refuse all proposals or papers that invoke any supernatural explanation for physical phenomena.

THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND.
Opinions are the author's and not necessarily shared by the University of Maryland, but they should be.

Archives of What's New can be found at http://www.aps.org/WN

Flying pig payout promised

Fri 3 December, 2004 05:37

By Sven Nordenstam

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A sworn enemy of superstition, Canadian-born magician James Randi has thrown down the gauntlet to mystics, promising a million dollars to anyone who can prove supernatural powers or a phenomenon beyond the reach of science.

An arch-sceptic who demonstrates with his own sleight of hand how easily it is to dupe the gullible into mistaking trickery for the supernatural, the bearded 76-year-old has written nine books and lectured at the White House, NASA and several top U.S. universities.

The million-dollar "paranormal challenge" lends publicity to Randi's life-long mission.

His pursuit of scepticism was sparked by a visit to a spiritualist church in his native Toronto when he was just 15.

Already an amateur magician, he was upset at seeing "common tricks" pass for divine intervention. But his attempts at enlightening the churchgoers cost him four hours questioning at the police station.

Sixty years on, Randi is still trying to persuade people to give up their belief in mystic forces beyond their control.

"It's a very dangerous thing to believe in nonsense. You're giving away your money to the charlatans, you're giving away your emotional security, and sometimes your life," he explained in an interview before giving a lecture in Stockholm.

A MAN OBSESSED

Deeply concerned with the spread of beliefs not based on the principles of science, Randi is especially worried about the growing popularity of exotic cures and therapies catering to sick people who are then lured away from effective treatments.

"It's a mission, and also an obsession," he said.

The challenge also serves to dent the image of professional psychics, as they so far have balked at the chance to win the million.

"They offer all kinds of strange excuses," he said.

On a European tour of Germany, Italy, Ireland, Belgium and Sweden, Randi tested people who wanted to go for his million. Most applicants sincerely believe they have supernatural gifts, the vast majority claiming to possess the power of dowsing -- the ability to detect water with the help of a cleft stick.

Dowsing has never been proved to work in a controlled setting, said Randi.

"But no one ever changes their mind," he said, recalling only one single case throughout the years where a man backed down from his claim after being tested.

At a lecture to promote critical thinking, a Swedish audience of about 300 applauded and laughed as Randi blasted away at astrologers, homeopaths, faith healers and psychic mediums, accusing them of defrauding the sick and the desperate.

Riddling his performance with tricks -- divining the symbols on cards put in an envelope by an apparently randomly-chosen audience member -- Randi says his own expertise at "magic" helps him expose fraudsters.

"As a magician I know two things -- how to deceive people and how people deceive themselves."

OFFENDING SPOON-BENDERS

On one particular night Randi was in the company of hundreds of cheering fellow sceptics, but not everyone appreciated seeing their beliefs shattered.

"I get threats all the time. I don't answer the door unless I know who's there," he said.

His most famous adversary is Uri Geller, the Israeli psychic who became a celebrity in the '70s for bending spoons. Geller sued him for libel for his book "The Truth About Uri Geller". I has cost Randi a fortune in legal fees, but he has not yet been able to get the book removed from the shelves.

Randi demonstrated to a reporter how he too is capable of mystically mistreating cutlery, but as a magic trick.

He carefully pointed out that he does not deny Geller might have supernatural talent -- just as he does not rule out the existence of supernatural phenomena.

"If Geller does it by divine power, he does it the hard way," he said.

Randi said he would be happy to hand over the prize if presented with solid evidence.

"That would be such an advance for our knowledge of the universe that it would be well worth a million dollars," he said. "The possibility is very, very small, but it's there."

The prospects for the mystically-minded don't look too rosy, though. The James Randi Educational Foundation, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has tested hundreds of applicants. But no one has ever passed even the preliminary tests.

On the lapel of his jacket, Randi wears a pin with the mascot of the organisation, a winged pig called Pigasus.

"We say that we will give away the million dollars when pigs can fly."

http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyID=6985019§ion=news

Miami U prof's remains found

Hunter finds bones a mile from house

By Janice Morse
Enquirer staff writer

OXFORD TWP. - Tracking dogs sniffed, horsemen trampled alongside cornfields and hundreds of volunteers scoured the landscape in a six-month search for missing Miami University professor Charles Capel - to no avail.

Wednesday, a lone hunter spotted bones in a desolate wooded area just a mile from Capel's Oxford home - and about 100 yards from where volunteers quit their last search.

Investigators said they think Capel, 81, tripped and fell in the wooded area encircled by a cornfield and was unable to get back up.

"He must have been really concealed by the foliage and the trees, because where he was found was just outside the grid area of our last search - and that area was part of our original search," Sgt. Jim Squance, city police spokesman, said Thursday.

Authorities will perform an autopsy on his skeletal remains today, although they might never know what killed the beloved retired mathematics professor.

But for the family that cherished his empathy, intellect and jovial spirit, the discovery brings an end to a mystery that galvanized many in this Butler County city of 22,000 and focused attention on the painful plight of families like Capel's whose loved ones have Alzheimer's disease.

"With Alzheimer's, you lose your loved one while they're alive. You don't have the relationship you once had with them, and it's very, very hard," Capel's daughter, Gail Capel Stephenoff, 48, said in an interview from her home in Hilliard, near Columbus.

"We are relieved that he's been found. It brings us the closure that we've prayed for," she said. "Just kind of knowing a little more about where he went - and that he died peacefully."

Capel, suffering from memory loss and confusion, apparently wandered away from home sometime between 10 p.m. May 20 and 8 a.m. May 21. June Capel, his wife of 58 years, alerted authorities when she awoke and found him missing and the door to their white brick ranch home wide open.

Capel, the father of two daughters and three grandchildren, enjoyed walking for fitness, and his wife said at the time that she thought he might have gone for a walk that morning and become disoriented.

"I want to believe that Charlie went for a walk that morning ... made a wrong turn and got lost,'' Capel's wife said in June. "We may never know."

'Sad we missed it'

In the months that followed his disappearance, hundreds of volunteers and police repeatedly scoured a 10-mile radius from the house. The last search, Oct. 24, focused on an area within a mile of Capel's home - perhaps 100 yards shy of the site where Capel's remains were found, police said.

"That area looks much different now than it did back when he first disappeared," Squance said.

In late May, trees and bushes were lush with leaves; by midsummer, tall green cornstalks encircled the heavily wooded clump where Capel's remains were found.

"It's kind of sad that we missed it. But it's not for lack of trying or the community effort," Squance said.

About 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, in the now-barren, brown landscape of late fall, hunter Jason Long crunched along the fallen dead cornstalks. He spotted what appeared to be an animal carcass. As Long got closer, he realized that the skeletal remains appeared to be human, and he called police.

Right away, investigators suspected the remains were Capel's, Squance said.

"We had no other missing person...and it's not that far from his house," he said.

The remains were found atop a log, along with a shirt; a pair of gym shoes were nearby.

"There is some indication that he may have tripped," Squance said, declining to elaborate.

Psychic clues 'right on'

The area in which Capel's remains were found was similar to descriptions that "psychic detective" Noreen Renier, of Virginia, had given to police who enlisted her help when they were stymied by a lack of clues in the case, Squance said.

"The landmarks she described were all there," he said.

Renier told police she thought Capel had gone out his front door, walked along Contreras Road and through a field where tall grass or plants were itching his legs, Squance said.

Renier also said she "saw" a tower with a radio antenna on top - similar to the water tower within sight of the spot where Capel's remains were found.

"We based our search on the information that she gave us, and, as it turns out, she was right on," he said. "Professionally, you have to be a little skeptical, using a detective psychic. But personally, when you see the results, you've got to be in awe."

There were times when, despite everyone's efforts, Capel's loved ones feared he'd never be found, his daughter said.

"We're very grateful to all the authorities and search teams," she said.

"My father was a wonderful, wonderful man, and I miss him a lot."

E-mail jmorse@enquirer.com

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041203/NEWS01/412030384/1056

MIOS MEETING Metroplex Institute of Origin Science

Hear David V. Bassett Present:

Dinosaurs: Their Recorded Recency,
Contemporary Coexistence, and Presence with Man

Mr. Bassett is Science Department Head at Ovilla Christian School (20 miles south of Dallas, TX) and assistant to the Director of the Creation Evidence Museum (Glen Rose, TX).

He will present Biblical, archaeological, paleontological, and historical evidence for dinosaurs being contemporaneous with humans throughout the last six millennia since their origin with man on day 6 of Creation week; evidence such as dragon-dinosaur similarities, human and dinosaur footprints within the same stratum, and unfossilized dinosaur bones-some still containing dinosaurian DNA ! Such evidence certainly serves to strengthen the young Earth Creation Model position regarding these remarkable creatures.

Bunky Auditorium
Medical Office Building
2126 Research Row, Dallas, TX

Tuesday, December 7th, 7:30 PM


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Baptists Debate Evolution, Theology

http://www.ethicsdaily.com/article_detail.cfm?AID=5045

Bob Allen
12-01-04

A clash between faith and science is taking center stage at a Baptist college in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Baptist Convention recently authorized an investigation into what is being taught at the state's three Baptist colleges. That came after a student at Carson-Newman College took the floor to say professors at the school in Jefferson City, Tenn., teach the Bible contains errors and contradictions.

The student, Brady Tarr, earlier wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper criticizing Carson-Newman's biology department for not teaching creationism as an alternative to evolution.

"Every teacher in the biology department is a theistic evolutionist," Tarr charged. "They do not believe that God created the heavens, the earth and every living thing the way the Bible says He did in Genesis. They believe that the first chapters of Genesis are figurative and are not literally how God created everything. The teachers say that God used evolution to create life, which is clearly not what the Bible says!"

"Theistic" evolution holds that both creation and evolution are true. It affirms that God created life on earth through evolution over eons, rather than directly in six days less than 10,000 years ago.

While the view is widely held and taught in many Christian colleges, some say it doesn't square with a literal reading of the Bible. For example, Scripture says that death entered the world because of the fall of Adam. If that is true, they ask, how could dinosaurs have perished millions of years before the first human appeared?

"I believe it is very dangerous for those teachers to trust science over the word of God," continued Tarr, a chemistry major set to graduate in December.

Tarr is a member of the Carson-Newman tennis team and grandson of one of the school's most generous donors. Two buildings on campus bear the family name. These days he is best known, however, for rallying conservative pastors in East Tennessee over concerns that the Baptist college promotes liberalism.

Todd Stinnett, a 2001 graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said on an Internet message board that he met Tarr shortly after becoming pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Morristown, Tenn., in February 2003. A college student at Stinnett's church introduced Tarr, who wanted to share with a local pastor concerns about what he had been taught about the Bible, creation and God's foreknowledge during his time at Carson-Newman.

"I listened to what Brady was saying, and I decided that if things were really as bad as he said they were, then I needed to go on campus to find out what was happening," Stinnett wrote. "For the past year and a half, that is exactly what I have done."

Stinnett described his last on-campus experience as "the clincher." Charles Kimball, head of the religion department at Wake Forest University and author of the book When Religion Becomes Evil, lectured and preached a chapel sermon Sept. 13-14.

During a question-and-answer session, Stinnett said he asked Kimball whether all religions worship the same God. Kimball responded: "Young man, that's a very difficult question, and one I don't think I can answer with a yes or no."

In his book, Kimball warns against the danger of "absolute truth claims" and makes a case for "inclusivism," the concept that while Jesus Christ represents the fullest revelation of God, God's saving presence is found in other faith traditions as well.

Critics say inviting Kimball to speak amounted to endorsement of his views, which some fear might lead impressionable students astray. Further, some wonder if a majority of faculty secretly believe the same way.

In his letter to the editor, Tarr alleged that every full-time teacher in the religion department except one believes that the Bible contains errors and/or contradictions. He said there should be more inerrantist professors, so students would have an equal opportunity to be taught by people who believe the Bible is literally true.

Carson-Newman President James Netherton said at the state convention that the college "doesn't teach the Bible has errors," according to the Baptist & Reflector, but that "If you treat the Bible with great honesty, a number of things must be read and placed in proper perspective."

A number of critics, however, say the figurative reading of the Bible held by most of the religion faculty is out of step with what many Tennessee Baptists believe.

Tarr's mother, Deidre Tarr, defended her son in a widely circulated open letter that criticized not only Kimball's chapel message but also an earlier profanity-laden lecture by Duke Divinity School professor Stanley Hauerwas.

"Do Baptist preachers, members of their congregations and individual Christians know this is the kind of chapel program that they are paying for their children to hear?" she wrote. "To offer this heresy and not allow a professor from Southern Seminary to come on campus last year to speak about the Bible being true does not seem to be open intellectual inquiry."

Others defend Carson-Newman's reputation for both academic excellence and Christian commitment and fear a witch hunt is underway on campus.

Prior to the recent presidential election, a story circulated about a student being kicked out of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Carson-Newman because he intended to vote for John Kerry. The student reportedly declined subsequent reinstatement.

Brady Tarr was identified as one of the students leading the effort to remove the student. Neither he nor other students identified by sources as being involved in the dispute responded to e-mail requests for comment.

FCA official Joshua Sonoga said the dispute had nothing to do with politics but centered on theological issues. He declined to elaborate.

A faculty source told EthicsDaily.com, however, that one of the fundamentalist students involved admitted that political views were at least part of the reason the Kerry-voting student was removed from the FCA leadership team.

David Nowell, vice president for advancement, said in an e-mail that the administration was aware of the incident and was looking into it.

Baptist schools in other states have severed ties with sponsoring state conventions to avoid fundamentalist takeover. Observers believe Belmont University in Nashville would do the same if the study turns into a showdown between moderates and conservatives. Union University in Jackson, meanwhile, is a fundamentalist school and expects to receive a clean bill of health. Carson-Newman, viewed as the middle-of-the-road of the three colleges, would be most vulnerable in an outright power struggle between factions of the right and left.

While the teaching of evolution in Baptist colleges hasn't been a major focus in other state conventions, there is precedent in the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC Peace Committee Report in 1987 found that most Southern Baptists believe in the "direct" creation of mankind and that Adam and Eve were real persons. The report called on SBC schools to "build their professional staffs and faculties from those who clearly reflect such dominant convictions and beliefs held by Southern Baptists at large."

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

Sun Might Have Exchanged Hangers-On With Rival Star

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/02/science/02solar.html

By DENNIS OVERBYE

Published: December 2, 2004

The Sun may have captured thousands or even millions of asteroids from another planetary system during an encounter more than four billion years ago, astronomers are reporting today.

Such an interstellar ballet would explain many mysteries of the outer solar system - including the strange behavior of the recently discovered Sedna, the system's most distant known object, which occupies a strange elongated orbit far beyond Pluto.

The astronomers' calculations, from supercomputer simulations, suggest that gravity from the star at the center of the other planetary system could have kicked Sedna out of a more conventional orbit. In the process, the Sun and the other star would have swapped their outer entourages. Indeed, the astronomers estimate that there is a 10 percent probability that Sedna itself was one of those strangers.

If the alien asteroids could be found and studied, these bodies could provide testimony to the conditions under which the Sun and the solar system formed, a time otherwise lost in the mists. Astronomers say the Sun was born 4.5 billion years ago as part of a dense cluster of more than 1,000 stars that has long since disappeared. The star that nearly collided with our solar system so long ago could be on the other side of the galaxy by now.

"I don't think anyone has considered that extrasolar planets would be in our own solar system," said Scott J. Kenyon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He is the co-author, with Benjamin C. Bromley of the University of Utah, of a paper being published today in Nature.

Their paper is the latest in a series of efforts to consider an intruding star as a way of explaining the weird properties of Sedna.

"Sedna surprised the hell out of everybody," said Harold F. Levison of the Southwestern Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., who has proposed a slightly different intruder scenario, with Alessandro Morbidelli of the Observatory of the Côte d'Azur in France.

The strange planetoid was discovered last spring. About 600 to 1,000 miles in diameter, Sedna travels in an elongated oval of an orbit far outside the main planets of the solar system, taking roughly 10,500 years to complete an orbit. By comparison, distant Pluto takes about 248 years to complete a trip around the Sun. At its closest approach, Sedna, named after the Inuit goddess who dwells in the frigid depths of the seas, will still be about seven billion miles from the Sun, 75 times farther than the Earth, which circles at a comfortable 93 million miles - one astronomical unit, in cosmic lingo.

Before Sedna's discovery, astronomers knew of no objects beyond 50 astronomical units from the Sun, where a disk of icy worlds known as the Kuiper Belt, left over from the formation of Neptune and Uranus, abruptly falls off. (They have deduced the existence of a vast halo of icy objects from which comets occasionally descend, known as the Oort cloud, extending much farther out, but these objects cannot be seen.)

Out there, Sedna is far beyond the gravitational influence of the other planets, so how did it get so far out? Both Dr. Kenyon's group and Dr. Levison's agree that a kick from a passing star is the best and perhaps the only way to do it, but they disagree on the details.

Dr. Kenyon and Dr. Bromley conclude that a star and its disk of planetary building materials passing from 160 astronomical units or so from the Sun could not only lift Sedna into its present location, but also truncate the Kuiper Belt, thus explaining its abrupt edge.

Dr. Levison said his and Dr. Morbidelli's work favored a more distant and gentle kick from a distance of about 800 astronomical units. He pointed out that Dr. Kenyon's scenario predicted a plethora of objects in Sedna-like orbits but slightly closer and thus easier to see that are nonetheless not seen.

Dr. Kenyon acknowledged that this was a potential problem.

Either encounter would also leave alien planetoids in our solar system (and some of ours in the alien system) orbiting at a steep angle to the plane in which the planets go around. And so the next step is to search for such objects.

Sedna itself has only a moderately inclined orbit , the astronomers say. A more likely candidate for an extra-solar origin is another icy wanderer, known as 2000 CR105, about half the size of Sedna, discovered out beyond Neptune in 2000. Its orbit is inclined 20 degrees to the planets.

The detection of objects with inclinations of 40 degrees or more, the authors write in Nature, "would clinch the case for extrasolar objects in the solar system."

Alan P. Boss, a planetary expert at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, called the idea that Sedna could have been a captured object formed around a different star "intriguing even if it is a low-probability event."

Dr. Bromley said the study of such objects could help scientists understand how stars and solar systems form and whether the forces that shaped Sedna and the solar system are common to other systems. "We are a long way off from having the technology to observe Sedna-like objects around other stars," he wrote in an e-mail message, "but a captured planet would be within our reach."

Dr. Levison said these objects could be the few relics left with information about the star cluster that gave birth to the Sun.

"All our cousins took off and we have no idea about the size of our family," he said. "This gives us a little cousin to study."

Evidence on Cold Fusion Remains Inconclusive, New Review Finds

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/02/science/02fusion.html

By KENNETH CHANG

Published: December 2, 2004

In a new review of cold fusion - the claim that energy can be generated by running electrical current through water - the Department of Energy released a report yesterday that says the evidence remains inconclusive, echoing a similar report 15 years ago.

Over the past several months, 18 scientists reviewed research in cold fusion, and two-thirds of them did not find the evidence for nuclear reactions in the experiments convincing. Almost all of them, however, said that aspects of cold fusion merited consideration for further research.

"I think the new review has shed some light on the status of research that has been done over the last 15 years," said Dr. James F. Decker, deputy director of the science office in the Energy Department who agreed to the review at the request of several scientists involved with cold fusion research.

Dr. Decker said the department was open to proposals for cold fusion research, but added that was not new. "We have always been open to proposals that have scientific merit as determined by peer review," he said. "We have never closed the door to cold fusion proposals."

Cold fusion briefly appeared to promise an unlimited energy source in 1989 when Drs. B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann of the University of Utah announced that they had generated fusion - the same process that powers the sun - in a tabletop experiment using a jar of water containing deuterium, a heavier version of hydrogen.

They claimed that an electrical current running through the water pulled deuterium atoms into two palladium electrodes, generating heat. The speculation was that the heat was coming from the fusion of the deuterium atoms.

Other scientists, however, had trouble reproducing the findings, and at the end of 1989, a review by the Energy Department recommended against a specific cold fusion research program, although it did support further investigation into some aspects.

After that, most scientists regarded cold fusion as a discredited farce, but a small group of scientists continued work in the field. Measurements have become better, but cold fusion experiments still produce heat at best half of the time. At the end of last year, several cold fusion scientists approached Dr. Decker, asking for a review. Dr. Decker agreed.

In the review, nine scientists chosen by the Energy Department considered a paper submitted by the cold fusion scientists. Another nine listened to oral presentations by cold fusion scientists in August.

"This was a very, very scientific, very level-headed, review by everybody," said Dr. Kirby W. Kemper, vice president for research at Florida State University and one of the reviewers of the oral presentations. But Dr. Kemper said, "I don't think we've made much progress since '89 in really nailing down the parameters that make it reproducible."

He said there were interesting scientific questions on the behavior of hydrogen within metals that merited research, and he said his comments tried to offer a future research path.

Dr. Michael McKubre, a scientist at SRI International, one of the scientists who approached Dr. Decker last year, said the conclusions were at least "mildly positive" in endorsing consideration of further research.

"All we set out to demonstrate was there were serious issues of science that had to be developed further," Dr. McKubre said. "If you look through the materials, the majority, if not the entirety, agree on that point."

The Face Of Evolutionary Design

http://www.americandaily.com/article/5878

By Robert E. Meyer (12/01/04)

As the debate over Intelligent Design vs. evolutionary theory tends to flair up now and again, it is important to register some observations about the nature of the controversy.

Darwinian evolution, or at least some contemporary derivative of it, is the predominant, if not the exclusive view of origin taught in public school. To justify such deference, we note that presumed intellectuals will smugly characterize any opposition as an argument of science versus superstition, or the like.

This proposition of science in contrast to theology, philosophy or superstition sets up the classic false dilemma. Consider the statement that the only valid knowledge is that which can be empirically verified. It must be ascertainable through the five-senses, testable, observable, subject to falsification. If not, then such information is basically unintelligible and meaningless. We ask how many of these categories are representative of evolutionary theories? Who has observed the evolutionary theories we casually postulate with little mental reservation? Who has replicated Evolution in the laboratory. Whenever the fossil record is presented as a witness against evolution, we see retooling of the processes, but never doubt about the plausibility of the theory itself. How would Evolution be falsified if indeed it could be? Reasonable questions–but don't dare to ask them without being quickly branded a stark-raving mad fundamentalist. If both ID and Evolution are metaphysical theories, why give one consideration over the other with a virtual monopoly?

That brings us to the issue of academic freedom. It is applauded when it is used to question the boundaries of conventional morality, it is sneered at when it is applied in opposition to the presuppositions of orthodoxy pertaining to scientific naturalism. We are told that few "credible" scientists doubt Evolution. Maybe that's because few scientists who are skeptical of Evolution are perceived as "credible". One is indicative of the other. When your career is threatened, it is easy to be swallowed up in "groupthink" and consensus. Doubting Evolution might make one a "yokel", but it still won't solve the many independent problems of evolutionary theories.

We wonder what it is that evolutionists fear? If they are correct on the basis of overwhelming scientific evidence, then comparisons with competing theories of origin will fold like a deck of cards.

But they don't want such comparative analysis to take place. You see, these Intelligent Design theories sound convincing to people who don't understand the technicalities, principles and nuances that preoccupy enlightened minds. That is part of the reason given for the poor showing by Evolutionists in their debates with Ceationists. You might think they would realize that there are only so many people of 160 plus IQ's on the far reaches of the Bell Curve. It is hard to build a movement on a body of thought that is so esoteric. But folks have a way of stumbling over their own hubris. What they want is to have their own oligopoly of philosopher-kings to reign in the ignorant throngs of rabble.

Recently, a popular local editorial writer, saw fit to compare intelligent design with Egyptian mythology, featuring a god who masturbates the universe into existence. And yet don't non-Creationists have their own counterpart in the ludicrous propositions of "panspermia" theories? Personally I don't have the faith to believe that a universe of impersonal matter created itself out of nothing, and then evolved into meaning, purposefulness, logic and reason.

It seems that the promulgation of evolutionary theories have little to do critical thinking, and more to do with eliminating any considerations about the implications of the Creator's existence.

Robert Meyer is a hardy soul who hails from the hinterlands of this great country. Robert is known as a clever retorician who often refutes the knee-jerk arguments in the editorials of local newspapers. His goal is to understand every aspect of life, based on the precepts of a conservative Christian worldview. He often gleans inspiration from looking off his deck over the scenic Fox River and remembering the wise counsel of those who mentored him.

Send Feedback To Robert E. Meyer

Many in Dover say 'intelligent design' mandate reflects values

http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/news/politics/10313336.htm

Posted on Wed, Dec. 01, 2004

MARTHA RAFFAELE

Associated Press

DOVER, Pa. - Glenda Lentz carries a wide selection of secular and religious merchandise among the gifts and greeting cards in her small shop on Main Street.

One window of Taylor's Treasures - named for Lentz's 7-year-old daughter - is filled with two decorative Christmas banners, one emblazoned with Frosty the Snowman and the other with a dove holding an olive branch in its beak, hovering over the word "Peace."

Lentz, 36, similarly believes that in Dover's public high school, science teachers can accommodate Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and "intelligent design," a concept that attributes the universe's complexity to the work of an undefined intelligent force. As a Christian, she was raised to believe, and is raising Taylor and her younger sister to believe, that God created the universe.

"I don't judge anybody for their life or their lifestyle, but I want to be able to express myself and my lifestyle the way I want ... my kids are going to be the ones being taught at that school," said Lentz, who wore a denim shirt with a small Christian fish symbol embroidered on the pocket.

The Dover school board's decision in October to require the teaching of intelligent design in biology class as an alternative to evolution - an apparent first in the United States - has placed the community under the national microscope.

Dover's decision has raised the ire of critics who contend intelligent design is just another term for the Biblical notion of creationism, which is based on a literal reading of the book of Genesis.

At least two other districts have recently become embroiled in the debate over teaching evolution. Educators in Grantsburg, Wis., were outraged by a curriculum revision that would allow the teaching of creationism in public schools, and a federal court judge in Georgia is considering the constitutionality of a suburban Atlanta district's decision to include a warning sticker about evolution in biology textbooks.

From Lentz's gift shop to a plant nursery on the outskirts of town, the prevailing sentiment of townspeople interviewed this week mirrors the school board's 6-3 vote on Oct. 18, reflecting the values of a community whose central square is anchored on one corner by an evangelical Lutheran church built in 1899.

At the heart of the district is the borough of Dover, a compact community of roughly 1,800 residents where small, family-owned businesses, such as Lentz's gift shop, share sidewalk space with old brick and wood-frame houses.

The borough is surrounded by Dover Township, which contains vast swaths of farmland interspersed with newer suburban developments and a busy commercial strip south of the borough. According to the 2000 census, the township's population swelled by 15 percent since 1990 to more than 18,000 residents. Both the borough and the township are predominantly white.

The township was originally formed in 1743, an agricultural community settled by Germans seeking to escape religious persecution, and the borough was incorporated more than 100 years later, according to historical records.

Today, Dover is a bedroom community for residents employed in York, six miles to the southeast, and to a lesser extent Harrisburg, about 20 miles to the north.

About half a block up Main Street from Calvary Lutheran Church, Nianna Cullum and her 12-year-old daughter, Nerissa, were wrapping glittering tinsel garlands around the pillars of their front porch before noon Monday. Nerissa, a seventh-grader, was home from middle school because, like many other rural districts, Dover closes school on the opening day of deer season.

Cullum had never heard of intelligent design before the board changed the science curriculum, but supports its inclusion. It bothers her that in Nerissa's social-studies class students cannot use the term "B.C.," or before Christ, to refer to ancient time periods. Instead, "B.C.E," or before Common Era, is used.

"I think it's good. Children need different views to make their own opinion," said Cullum, a 40-year-old waitress.

Steve Farrell, a Dover High School alumnus who co-owns a nursery and garden center with his brother, welcomes the change as a small step toward "bringing God back into the school." He said it reflects the growing political power of conservative Christians.

Although President Bush lost Pennsylvania to Democrat John Kerry, he drew strong support from the state's vast central region and won York County, which includes Dover, by a nearly 2-1 margin.

Farrell became a born-again Christian 3 1/2 years ago and said anyone who would fight the intelligent-design mandate is "taking a stand against God."

"For someone to stand in the face of that ... I wonder what fear these people are living in that they don't want that taught," he said.

So far, school administrators have declined to comment on the new curriculum, aside from issuing a statement Nov. 19 that said officials would monitor the science lessons "to make sure no one is promoting but also not inhibiting religion." They said they wanted to provide balanced view of evolution and not present religious beliefs.

Jan Eisenhart, a retired surveyor and a member of the borough council, questions whether the board truly had to community's interests in mind when it adopted the science curriculum change.

"They have their agenda. When people get tired of it, they'll vote them out," said Eisenhart, 68, who previously served on the school board.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has said the intelligent-design mandate may clash with the constitutional separation of church and state and is reviewing the matter. Witold Walczak, the ACLU's legal director, said whether the community at large favors the policy is legally irrelevant.

"If the issue is whether the policy violates the First Amendment ban on mixing religion and government, it either does or it doesn't. It's not subject to a vote, no more than we would vote on whether people should be allowed to keep slaves or women needed to stay home," Walczak said.

Jean Nagle, who moved to the district 36 years ago from Philadelphia when her husband's company transferred him, considers the intelligent-design policy an "embarrassment" to the community.

Nagle, 61, didn't feel particularly welcome as a newcomer. She often found herself at odds with school officials because she felt the district was providing an inadequate gifted-education program for her daughter, who graduated in 1986.

"I would be very upset if my daughter was still in the school system. I don't think that religion belongs in the school," she said as she waited for her laundry to dry at the White Dove Laundromat.

Lentz, the shop owner, said although she understands the intelligent-design mandate might not be embraced by everyone in the community, she feels that the loudest complaints are coming from outside organization, such as the ACLU.

"I wish that these outside groups would leave Dover alone," she said.

ON THE NET

Dover Area School District: http://www.dover.k12.pa.us

American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania: http://www.aclupa.org/

Martha Raffaele covers education for The Associated Press in Harrisburg.

Paul Davies Explores Impact of 'Hobbit' Discovery

http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/508526/

Source: Science & Theology News

Released: Wed 01-Dec-2004, 08:00 ET

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Keywords
PAUL DAVIES, HOBBITS, PURPOSE, MIND/LIFE, INTELLIGENT DESIGN
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Description

1) Effect of 'hobbits' on science-and-religion; 2) American churches embrace "The Purpose-Driven Life"; 3) Study uncovers link between religious service attendance and health; 4) Coverage of Mind and Life Institute Conference; 5) Intelligent design backers and critics face off.

Newswise -- Acclaimed astrobiologist Paul Davies analyzes the discovery of a new human species in Indonesia in Science & Theology News (Dec. 2004.) According to Davies, further study of these “hobbits” will have serious implications for science-and-religion and could potentially overturn assumptions about human origins and intelligence.

Also in this issue:

40 DAYS OF PURPOSE CAMPAIGN POPULARITY INCREASES
More and more American churches have embraced Rick Warren's program, The Purpose-Driven Life. Frederica Saylor examines the movement, which involves a deeper involvement with God's purpose for creating human life.

RELIGIOUS SERVICE IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH
A recent study uncovered a link between attendance at religious service and boosts to the immune system and overall survival rates. Julia Keller talks with the researchers behind the University of Iowa study.

BUDDHISM, SCIENCE UNITE AT MIND AND LIFE CONFERENCE
The 12th annual Mind and Life Institute Conference in India emphasized that Buddhism and science can work together to uncover the secrets of the mind. Geetinder Garewal reports from India on key conference events, including the topics of neuroplasticity and meditation.

BOOK REVIEW: THE HEALING CONNECTION
Adrienne Strock reviews The Healing Connection: The Story of a Physician's Search for the Link Between Faith and Health by Harold Koenig, M.D., editor-in-chief of Science & Theology News, which tells the personal story of his life's work.

INTELLIGENT DESIGN: A CONTINUING DEBATE
This month, our Author's Corner features a column from Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross, authors of the anti-intelligent design Creationism's Trojan Horse, and a response from ID supporters John G. West and Jonathan Witt of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute.

For these stories and more coverage of conferences, books and science-and-religion news, visit http://www.stnews.org. While there, sign up for E-News â€" our monthly e-newsletter â€" to stay on top of the latest news in science-and-religion. Please direct advertising inquiries to Jocelyn Godfrey, advertising director, at jgodfrey@nc.rr.com. For subscription information, contact Jennifer Doxsee at jdoxsee@stnews.org, or take advantage of our free, no-obligation trial subscription to the print edition. To receive six free issues, visit http://www.sunbeltfs.com/forms/rh/freeoffer.asp?eid=E10605.

Science & Theology News is the monthly, international newspaper focusing on the cooperative relationship between science and religion. Every issue features science-and-religion research reports, interviews with respected scholars and reviews of influential books, and each article includes analysis of science and its correlation with spirituality. We also publish the most accurate and complete calendar of future events and conferences in the field. Founded in 2000 as Research News and Opportunities in Science & Theology and funded by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation, Science & Theology News has a circulation of over 30,000 and an audience of both national and international readers. Visit us on the Web at http://www.stnews.org.

© 2004 Newswise.

ANCL Chairman awarded Doctorate for long-standing service to journalism

http://www.dailynews.lk/2004/12/02/new18.html

The three-day-long 42nd session of the Institute of Alternative Medicine came to an end yesterday at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall after adopting a resolution to hold the 43rd International Convention at Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.

Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara attended the closing session as the Chief Distinguished Invitee. Colombo Magistrate Kusala Sarojani Weerawardena was among the rest of the dignitaries who were invited. A host of politicians including MP Earl Gunasekera participated at the closing session.

The opening address was delivered by Dr. Anton Jayasuriya, President of the Institute of Alternative Medicine. Thereafter the medical practitioners of Alternative Medicine in Sri Lanka were awarded Certificates. The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (Lake House) Chairman Janadasa Peiris was awarded an Honorary Doctorate on this occasion in recognition of his long-standing service to the Media.

The Open University of Alternative Medicine is an institution chartered under the Institute of Convocation of the United States of America to which more than 20 Universities of world renown are affiliated. The name of Janadasa Peiris was proposed for the award of a Doctorate by Indian Doctor Ravi Ponniah who is a nominee for the award of the International Nobel Prize.

The 42nd session of the Institute of Alternative Medicine commenced its three-day session on November 27 with the participation of 1,200 representatives from 142 countries. About 200 works and research work on Alternative Medicine of varying subjects were launched during the session period.

The participation of nearly 100 medical practitioners from China under the leadership of Chinese Regional Health Minister was a special feature at this convention. A number of world renowned Sri Lankan Medical Practitioners of Alternative Medicine addressed the closing Session.

Drug addicts sent to Scientologists

http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article923213.ece

Norway's government has spent large sums sending drug addicts to a controversial Danish treatment run and supported by Scientologists.

The Narconon center in Denmark bases its treatment on the teaching of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, the Newspapers' News Agency (ANB) reports.

Astrid Skretting, a researcher at the State Institute for Drug and Alcohol Research (SIRUS), fears that Norwegian addicts end up as converts to Scientology after their stay.

The treatment course can cost from NOK 180,000-200,000 (USD 29,300-32,600). An information consultant at Norway's Health West said that their region was honoring existing agreements with Narconon but had no current cooperation.

Narconon Denmark uses Hubbard's controversial personality and IQ tests to assess their clients but manager Ole Thiemer insisted that the center is independent of the church.

"The Narconon program is non-religious and we don't put any religion in it. Our fundamental objective is to cure addiction so people can become valuable citizens," Thiemer said.

Thiemer knew of criticism from experts in the USA claiming that Narconon's methods had no scientific basis. He has publicly stated that he is a former addict that was cured by Narconon's program and then converted to active Scientology.

"We have clients that become Scientologists when they complete treatment. Maybe they think like I do, that if just a tiny part of Hubbard's technology can free them of addiction, what could all of his teaching do," Thiemer said.

Aftenposten English Web Desk
Jonathan Tisdall

New Science!

http://fafblog.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Yknow science hasn't been real popular lately. What with Congress cuttin the National Science Foundation budget an nobody believin in evolution anymore an the president not carin about global warming, maybe it's time we switched to a New Science that everyone will like better!

FAFBLOG PRESENTS: NEW SCIENCE! New Science is way better than borin ol Old Science! With Old Science you hadda putter around lookin for facts an evidence to back up hypotheses, an use the hypotheses to come up with a scientific theory. An when you get new evidence you gotta change everything all over again! Well not with New Science! With New Science you get to pick the conclusion an work backwards to the pick the right facts! It's quicker an easier an more efficient - you don't even have to leave your house! This is just a preview of what New Science can do for you:

BIOLOGY! New Biologists have done extensive testing an found that since we come from dust an to dust we shall return, we are primarily composed of dust, although the other four elements, air, water, fire, and funk, all play their own important roles as well. When you're feelin hungry an there's nothin to eat around, try scoopin up some dust (or dirt, if dust is scarce).

ASTRONOMY! In older times scientists thought that the stars an planets rotated around the earth on fixed spheres in the sky. Silly scientists! Now New Scientists know the stars an planets rotate around the earth on fixed spheres in the sky pushed by angels. The rotation of these stars an planets determines critical elements of your destiny, such as whether today is a lucky day for love, or whether you will attract interest in yourself and your ideas.

CLIMATOLOGY! Is the earth gettin warmer? Maybe but it sure isn't the fault a greenhouse gases! The earth just has a fever caused by an imbalance of the four humours. Pump a little more yellow bile into the atmosphere an it should be all set.

CONSERVATIONISM! Rare animals are fantastical an legendary. When they go missin it's not cause they're endangered or cause they're gettin poisoned to death or anythin. It's cause they have snuck off to a fantastical an legendary land Wherre Therr Be Dragonnes! File em away in Doctor Fafnir's Bestiary of Fearsomme & Terreble Besttes, like the griffin or the manticore or the whooping crane!

GODOLOGY! Why believe in God on crummy ol faith when New Science proves for a fact that he absolutely has to exist? Trained Godologists have determined that God orbits the earth in the celestial empyrean beyond the ninth sphere of the primum mobile. He is composed of 23% copper, 12% zinc, 4% nickel, and 61% Godmium, a special metal only used in the processin an manufacture of God. NASA Godnichians are hard at work buildin a space probe to launch into God by 2015!

Therapy or abuse? Controversial treatments may sink Cascade

http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595108087,00.html

Deseret Morning News, Sunday, November 28, 2004

By Jesse Hyde
Deseret Morning News

The evening of June 9, 2002, Springville emergency medical technicians responded to the home of Richard and Jennete Killpack. When they arrived, they found the couple's 4-year-old daughter lying on the floor, her belly swollen, her breathing sporadic. Pink foam spilled from her mouth.

Larry VanBloem is a director at the Cascade Center for Family Growth in Orem. He says few people understand the center's treatments because few have seen them.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

"It was coming out so fast I couldn't suction it," medical technician Terri Shuler testified at a court hearing the following May. She used four towels to soak up the foam.

"Three of the towels, I could wring water out of," Shuler testified.

The girl suffocated on her own vomit shortly after arriving by helicopter at Primary Children's Medical Center.

Her drowning was well under way hours earlier.

The girl's hands were tied behind her back with rope by her adoptive mother, and she was forced to drink water, according to videotaped testimony from a 7-year-old sister. When her father came home, the sister testified, he held the 4-year-old's head back as the couple forced more water down her throat.

She was being disciplined for taking a soft drink from a younger sibling.

"They make her drink a glass of water until she pukes," the sister told police.

Pathologists at the medical center listed the cause of death as water intoxication. The overdose of water caused the girl to vomit water and then breathe it into her lungs.

During the flight to the medical center, Cassandra Killpack also excreted and urinated large quantities of fluid.

When her parents go to trial next September, they are expected to blame Cassandra's death on the Cascade Center for Family Growth, a child behavior modification clinic in Orem that provides both traditional and unorthodox treatments.

The Killpacks claim they learned the bizarre hydrotherapy discipline method there.

A three-month investigation by the Utah County Attorney's Office cleared the center of any responsibility in Cassandra Killpack's death.

But the incident is proving fatal to the clinic. For several years, public and government scrutiny has been closing in on the state's lone provider of "holding therapy," a behavior modification treatment for severely traumatized or abused children that is reviled by some traditional child therapists but revered by many parents.

Social workers have stopped referring clients. The state Division of Child and Family Services no longer helps pay for treatment at Cascade. Directors Larry VanBloem and Jennie Gwilliam still have licenses to practice, but the state may revoke them in January.

VanBloem is nearly bankrupt. His family doctor buys his children shoes. His children must work to buy the family groceries.

"They've broken us," VanBloem says of those who have tried to shut the center down. "We're just barely hanging on."

Deseret Morning News graphic

VanBloem's critics call him a cult leader who brainwashes his clients and the dozens who passionately defend him. They say the strain of therapy he practices can result in death.

In 1999, a 10-year-old Colorado girl who weighed 68 pounds was asphyxiated during a holding therapy session called a "rebirthing" that went too far. The therapy, which is an extreme form of holding therapy, and which VanBloem strongly denies ever using at the Orem center, involves wrapping and holding a child tight in a blanket. Immobility and pressure induce panic from which the child is rescued by the parent.

Proponents believe the act creates an emotional bond that was missing between the two.

In 1997, a Midvale father suffocated his 4-year-old daughter in what he described as a holding therapy session gone wrong. He claims he was trained at the center, but prosecutors say he was using the therapy in an attempt to cover abuse of the child.

VanBloem says few understand what he does because few have seen it. They have heard stories and seen videos of terrified children pinned to the floor by several adults, screaming and pleading for help, but this is not the kind of holding therapy he practices.

"We're labeled as child abusers, and what about the hundreds and hundreds of kids we've served? They all know I'm in trouble; they read the papers. If I had abused them wouldn't they come forward? Instead they're writing letters of thanks," he says. "I'm working with kids who are in a desperate situation. What we do works, and if we don't help these children, who will?"

It is a cold Wednesday afternoon in late October and the clouds are rolling slowly across Utah Lake, gray and heavy. In Eagle Mountain, elementary school children are walking home from school. Some are still in Halloween costumes.

Cinderellas in red velvet dresses, boys dressed as soldiers and tigers.

Inside the home of Kristi Hutchings, a frizzy-haired girl wearing a powder blue dress is asking for holding therapy. She looks up at VanBloem, her small hands held gently in his, and asks when it will be her turn.

"Not today," he says with a small smile. Then he looks up. "Do these look like terrified kids to you?" he asks.

The house is full of children, and they clamor for the attention of VanBloem, who has taken off his shoes. They tumble into his lap, clutch at his hands, and pull him outside to play. Some are Hutchings' — who has five kids, four of them adopted — and some belong to her neighbor, Charly Risenmay, who has 12 children, 10 adopted.

Jennie Gwilliam, a director at the Cascade Center, demonstrates holding therapy with volunteer Elianna Alderink during a "Today" show filming of the treatment in November 2002. Proponents believe holding therapy creates an emotional bond that was missing between the two participants.

VanBloem has treated many of these children, who suffer from what he calls "reactive attachment disorder," a malady that most often affects adopted children who have suffered severe abuse, either physically or emotionally, by a previous primary caregiver.

If a child does not form an attachment during the first three years of life, he or she will not "think and feel like a normal person," says Nancy Thomas, a Colorado therapist and advocate of holding therapy, and will often feel "a deep-seated rage, far beyond normal anger."

The goal of holding therapy is to help children release this pent-up rage through confrontation and physical prodding and poking, usually to the abdomen, where attachment therapists believe emotions are stored. Through the process — which sometimes lasts hours — the child learns to bond to his or her adoptive parents.

On this fall day, VanBloem, a licensed clinical social worker, is making a house call to treat one of Risenmay's daughters. The teenager has bony hips and light brown eyes that never seem more than halfway open. She leans into VanBloem when he calls her and tucks her head as she softly reports what got her sent home from school. They have some things to work out, he says, their foreheads touching. She smiles shyly and nods.

Because Hutchings' house is too noisy, they cross the street to Risenmay's large two-story home for the therapy session. In a quiet upstairs room, VanBloem takes three cushions from a green leather couch patched with duct tape and sets them on the floor. The girl lies down on the cushions as instructed, and VanBloem gently places a white blanket over her, up to her neck, and sits beside her cross-legged. Her mother sits on the other side, looking through a pile of bills.

The bills are stacking up. Since the DCFS terminated its contract with Cascade in October 2002, parents like Risenmay have had to pay for VanBloem's services on their own. Treatment at community mental-health centers, such as Wasatch Mental Health in Utah County, is fully covered by Medicaid, while half the treatment costs at private clinics are paid for by DCFS for children adopted through the state agency.

When the state still recognized Cascade as a viable mental health option for troubled children, Risenmay sometimes took her kids there four days a week for therapy sessions that lasted from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Cascade also put a "tracker" in the home to monitor the child's behavior and administer holding therapy if necessary. Overall, Cascade charged $2,000 a month.

Charly Risenmay talks with her son at the Cascade Center. She has several children in treatment. "I saw more progress in one therapy session than I saw in months of conventional therapy," Risenmay said.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

Because most parents can't afford that on their own, two things have happened: VanBloem's business has suffered and, according to Risenmay, children who need holding therapy have regressed. Now VanBloem comes to Risenmay's house every few months. Some of her children are faring well, with occasional outbursts, while others have suffered dramatically from the decrease in contact with Cascade, she says. Risenmay's 9-year-old adopted daughter, for example, is at the Utah State Hospital, the state's mental institution.

"She needed a safe, nurturing and contained situation to even begin to deal with the things she was dealing with, and when she didn't have that, she couldn't cope," Risenmay says.

"I respect what the hospital is doing, but I don't know if they can treat her," VanBloem says, shaking his head.

Reactive attachment disorder is a disease few understand, manifesting itself in monstrous ways that would shock most parents, VanBloem says. Risenmay's 13-year-old, for example, ripped doors off their hinges as a 5-year-old, smacked her mother upside the head with a baseball bat and came after a sister with a pipe. Her daughter living at the mental hospital, adopted as a 2-year-old, smeared feces on the walls, put plastic bags over her head and once attacked her mother, cracking a rib. Her first word was the F-word.

Stories like these are common for those who have sought VanBloem's services. Tales of abuse that emerge during therapy are often so hideous VanBloem has to take breaks and walk around the Cascade building. Risenmay has vomited in a bucket.

"It is gut-wrenching what we do, but if we can't witness it and be there emotionally for the child, how can they trust us?" VanBloem asks.

"We had to design our therapy to meet the needs of these families. If that meant we had to create new programs, we created new programs. If that meant we had to come out on a Sunday, we did. Typical programs are not flexible enough to do that. The child's needs have to be addressed."

At first, Risenmay took her adopted daughters to conventional therapists, who told her what she already knew: Her girls were angry. Much of the blame for the child's condition came back to her.

With VanBloem it was different. He didn't make Risenmay sit out in the waiting room; he involved her in the therapy process. And he listened to her, without placing fault.

"I saw more progress in one therapy session than I saw in months of conventional therapy," Risenmay says.

She was not alarmed when her children screamed during therapy sessions, because it was emotion she saw every day.

"They say we incite these kids? They are already there," she says. "I can count on one hand the number of times Larry had to physically restrain my child. Yeah, you see the emotion, but you're seeing it every single day of your life, and it's uncontrolled."

"It's emotion that does no good," VanBloem says. "We try to channel it."

Kristi Hutchings says her daughter has been helped by Larry VanBloem's holding sessions. She says abdominal prodding helps a troubled child release anger "because emotions are stored in the organs."

Risenmay puts down her bills and leans across her daughter; VanBloem places the heel of his hand on the child's stomach and begins pressing.

"It's time to get your mad out," Risenmay says.

"I'm scared," the girl says flatly.

VanBloem places his hand on her forehead, trying to maintain eye contact.

"Stay with me," he says.

VanBloem asks her to recall a traumatic episode of abuse in vivid detail. She refuses at first but complies with prodding below her ribs. Hutchings, who is watching the session, leans over and whispers: "He's trying to help her release her anger, because emotions are stored in the organs."

VanBloem says he was trained to practice a more intrusive form of therapy than the kind he now administers. In a CBS "48 Hours" special on the therapy, therapists at a treatment center where VanBloem worked are shown lying on top of children, yelling at them inches from their face. The boy in the video, who has since said holding therapy helped him, appears terrified.

The state's Division of Occupational Licensing, which monitors licensed therapists in Utah, began investigating Cascade in 1997, according to VanBloem, when a former client, Johanna Everett, complained of abuse at Cascade. That set off an investigation that culminated in September 2002 with a petition filed by the state Attorney General's Office seeking to revoke VanBloem's license.

The petition, which was based on interviews with former Cascade clients, detailed five cases in which VanBloem and another therapist, Jennie Gwilliam, lay on top of children face-to-face to induce "belly breathing." VanBloem and other therapists would then restrain the child by "methods including sitting on the child's legs or wrapping the child in a blanket," the petition states.

The state alleged that VanBloem then used his hands and knuckles to press into the child's abdomen and ribs, causing pain. One mother of an 8-year-old patient reported finding bruises on her daughter after therapy sessions.

Since the petition was filed, VanBloem and his supporters have vehemently disputed it. VanBloem has videotaped testimony from eight parents who say state investigators have twisted their words, that Cascade never abused their children and that holding therapy was an effective treatment.

Everett, who spurred the probe, has since recanted her story and now campaigns in support of Cascade. Everett told the Deseret Morning News in September 2002 that state investigators misled her during interviews.

"They took my statements totally out of context," she said. "Most of what I said was true, but they put little spots of lies into it. They made it sound like it was torture, and it wasn't."

Dee Thorell, an investigator with the state license division assigned to the Cascade case, declined comment.

In June, Cascade was sued by Cheryl Denise Ely Haws, who said that during therapy sessions she was led to believe she was lesbian and that she had been the victim of ritualistic, satanic abuse as a child. The lawsuit also alleges that Gwilliam recommended Haws discipline her seven children with physical restraint, and that if they failed to obey her, she could make them drink a large glass of water.

Haws was seeking counseling for depression and marital problems, but she said the sessions made her suicidal and destroyed her 20-year marriage. VanBloem said he would like to comment on the lawsuit but cannot because the matter is still in court.

Then there is a Web site — www.kidscomefirst.info — that implies holding therapy has caused the death of seven children and suggests that Cascade is at least partly to blame for the deaths of two of those children, including Krystal Tibbets, a 3-year-old Midvale girl who was suffocated by her father in 1997.

Her father, Donald L. Tibbets, who says he was trained by VanBloem, was released in 2002 from prison after serving a five-year sentence for child-abuse homicide.

VanBloem says he never told Tibbets to practice holding therapy in the home and says the man suffers a history of violence. He has sued the creators of the Web site for defamation.

"They want to stop us because they think we are akin to something evil. They fully believe we are doing harm to kids," he says.

VanBloem insists he doesn't lie on top of children and restrains only those children who kick and punch. Sometimes, his therapy sessions don't include holding at all. He has never hurt children, he says, or instructed others to.

"We were trained to be kind of harsh in our words, and I never did that well because I thought it wasn't that great," VanBloem says. "I never liked it because it was hard on kids. We don't do that anymore.

"We didn't leave that therapy because it wasn't working. We left it because there were less intense ways to accomplish the same thing. We wanted to make it as easy as possible on the kids. Now we approach kids in a more loving way."

"I will still go where I need to go to help a kid. I'm not going to be Mr. Nice Guy. You have to be blunt with some of these kids or it's not going to work."

"Mad?" the girl whimpers.

"Well, you don't sound mad," Risenmay says sternly.

"I'm mad," the girl growls.

VanBloem holds his hand above her face.

"This is (the person who abused her) how do you feel?"

"I'm mad!" the girl screams. Risenmay screams with her, and soon the two are chanting in unison: "I'm mad! I'm mad!" at an increasing volume for 30 seconds or so, until the girl's voice begins to crack and tears bubble up from her eyes.

Once she has released her repressed rage, VanBloem and Risenmay speak to her in soothing tones about appropriate ways to deal with anger. When they are finished she hugs VanBloem. Risenmay sits on the couch, and her lanky daughter curls up in her arms like an infant.

"I'm sorry you have to carry so much inside you," Risenmay says, stroking the girl's forehead. "You're such a beautiful girl. I love you."

"I love you, too," the girl says. Then she gets up and runs downstairs to play.

As part of the continuing fight to keep his license, VanBloem will present his therapy to a state regulatory board in January. He will argue that the physical prodding he does is an approved method of massage therapy and that holding therapy is supported by scientific research.

It will be a tough argument to make. According to both the American Psychiatric Association and the Utah Psychiatric Association, there is no scientific evidence to support holding therapy.

There is some debate within the mental health field over whether reactive attachment disorder even exists.

"I'm very skeptical of the way RAD is diagnosed. Therapists use a checklist that has no scientific basis, and every kid with a history of abuse gets diagnosed with it," says Jean Mercer, a psychology professor at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey and an outspoken critic of holding therapy. "It's very rare, but there are some cases of children who are psychotic from a very early age, but that's not RAD; that's early onset schizophrenia, and nothing but medication is going to help them. This idea that sitting on someone is the answer, it's just bizarre."

Both Mercer and Matthew Speltz, director of the Child Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic at the University of Washington, agree that RAD is often misdiagnosed for children who suffer obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, severe depression and other mental illnesses.

Therapists who treat it often describe RAD as a disease so horrific most people are unaware it exists, a disease caused by pre-birth trauma, abuse by their birth parents or even satanic rituals. Unlike conventional therapists, who view current family relationships as at least part of the problem, attachment therapists focus solely on the child, which appeals to some parents.

"Parents with a difficult child are fighting the implication that they are to blame," Speltz says. "It's appealing to listen to a therapist who says the problem resides in the child, that there is something evil in them, and without serious intervention they will become the next Ted Bundy.

"The parents are as much a victim as the kids. They are desperate for help, and they are willing to consider anything; they are so vulnerable. These are kids who have learned to survive, they can change a family, they can drive a wedge between parents, and this gives parents the power back.

"These parents are easy marks for those who are selling an idea with no scientific validation," Speltz says.

Holding therapy also pleases parents because it involves them in the process. Indeed, during the therapy session at Risenmay's house, she was as much the therapist as VanBloem. For those who believe attaching with the mother is the key to solving a child's mental-health problems, it makes sense that the mother would be involved in the session.

Speltz and Mercer compare holding therapy to brainwashing. They say it bonds a child to his or her parents in the same way boot camp bonds soldiers to their military units.

Cult leaders, fringe-rehabilitation programs and religious organizations have long used intense psychological methods to "destabilize a sense of self in order to promote compliance with an ideology or organization," Speltz wrote in a 2002 study on holding therapy.

"What's totally unscientific and a figment of imagination is that when it does work it's working for the reasons holding therapists say it works," Speltz says. "This idea that you can reduce a kid to tears, and you are bringing them back to early infancy, it's pure nonsense. Or this idea that pent-up anger is stored in the gut — it's pretty primitive thinking. And it's kind of scary, because it suggests that the therapist has no training in physiology or anatomy."

"There's not a lot of difference between that and ancient theories that lumps in the head were indicative of personality, and that by moving those lumps you could change personality."

Speltz thinks holding therapy should be outlawed, and it baffles Mercer why many states still allow it. A bill sponsored by former state Rep. Mike Thompson, R-Orem, that would have banned holding therapy in Utah died from lack of support in the 2003 Legislature.

VanBloem has heard the attacks on holding therapy so many times he has them memorized. He can laugh at most of them, but what hurts is what the attacks have done to his business, his family and the children who he says need his help.

"They say I'm a cult leader. They say I brainwash people. It would be funny if it wasn't so serious," VanBloem says, sitting on the floor of Risenmay's house.

"Yeah, we've been brainwashed," Risenmay scoffs. "I have books and books, boxes and boxes stacked in my basement of research on holding therapy."

"Almost all the therapy out there has no more research than this. Our therapy has been supported by a peer-reviewed study published in an academic journal," VanBloem says. "What more do they want?"

He looks tired. His eyes are surrounded by dark circles. He has nearly gone broke fighting for the right to keep practicing. A year ago, he thought he was going to have to shut his business down.

"It's moment to moment. We're just staving off disaster," he says. "But you look at the kids, you look in their eyes, and you've got to do it."

"I love the children," he says, his voice cracking. "I love the children."

What is holding therapy?

A child lies down on a mat or across the laps of one or two therapists. A blanket is placed over the child if he or she requests it. The therapist prods the child to release pent-up rage through talking, physical prodding to the abdomen area or forcing eye contact with the child. If the child is lying on a mat, the therapist lies on one side of the child, the mother on the other side. If the child becomes violent, his or her arms and legs are restrained.

E-mail: jhyde@desnews.com

© 2004 Deseret News Publishing Company

When Science Flees the U.S.
The trend could have ominous consequences.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-baltimore29nov29,1,2642518.story

November 29, 2004

COMMENTARY

By David Baltimore, David Baltimore won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for his research in virology, in 1975. He has been president of Caltech since 1997.

The United States is the richest nation on Earth, the world's biggest beneficiary of the global economy. But will it last?

Not that long ago, the "global economy" meant that routine factory jobs were going overseas. The unions squawked, but others recognized that the U.S. could concentrate on high- value-added commerce: discovery, innovation, high-technology manufacturing, knowledge-based industries. And we've done very well developing technology and growing our economic base in these areas. So well, in fact, that such development seems like an auto-catalytic process or a "virtuous cycle" that will continue propelling us forward for generations.

But the system is overtaking us. We no longer have a lock on technology. Europe is increasingly competitive, and Asia has the potential to blow us out of the water.

In the last 20 years, many of the students in American universities who majored in the sciences and engineering came from Asia. Today, significant numbers are staying in Asia because the schooling there is so improved, and because we have made it harder to study here. And Asian scientists who have been successful here are returning home. None of this is lost on the governments of, say, India and China, which are putting huge sums into modernizing their science infrastructure and universities.

The proof of their success is the number of U.S. companies opening laboratories in China. Intel and Cisco are leading the way, and many others are seriously looking at the possibility. Wages there are a third of wages here, and some estimate that the cost of employing an engineer in China is as little as a tenth of the cost of employing the same person in the U.S.

But the key is not only cost. These companies have found that the Asian workers are as good as ours, as imaginative as ours — and they work longer hours and are more dedicated.

Where does all this leave the U.S., a nation with so many who are poorly educated and whose educational system does a particularly ineffective job with math and science. We have more people who believe in the devil than who believe in evolution. Why?

There are so many reasons I can call out only a few. One is lack of federal leadership in funding schooling that emphasizes math and science, another is our fragmented educational system that leaves so much to local control, another is general anti-intellectualism and the cult of the sound bite. But I think that the major failure is our inability as parents to pass on our culture to our children.

I say "inability" because I truly believe that parents want to do better but do not know how. One reason is the downgrading of family life in the two-wage-earner home, another is the speed with which technology changes how kids spend their lives and how people communicate; yet another is a lack of will when it comes to imposing discipline on children. And one that particularly galls me is the denigration of the word "stress."

When I grew up, we worked hard, played hard and never thought to minimize our activities because of stress. Sure, people were under stress and some cracked under it, but leading a "stressful" life was honored because of the accomplishments that could be achieved by those who could handle it. Today we deify the spa, not late hours solving problems at school or work. Caltech's high-achieving faculty and students are seen as weirdos because of their intense focus, but even here, some graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are seeking a more balanced life.

Now, what are the implications of all this? If technology is done well and more cheaply abroad, we will either have to seriously reduce salaries here or see the technology-intensive jobs go abroad. If technologists continue to be plentiful in foreign countries, wages there will only rise. Demand could fall at home, which would further drive down wages here.

This will have huge implications for our domestic industries as Asians open their own companies. The harbinger is Taiwan, whose citizens we have been training for decades and where many competitive industries already exist. And Taiwan is a small island with only 20 million people. China, an entrepreneurial powerhouse in the formative stages, has 1.3 billion.

So the cascade could begin: If America becomes a less affluent society, we will see a diminution in support for the research that is critical to our future. There are already clouds on the horizon: because of the deficit, federal budgets will get tighter and science funding is likely to suffer. The economic recovery is generating too few jobs. Silicon Valley still has lots of vacant space. The venture capital industry is scared and conservative.

These trends are real. We cannot afford to ignore them. We must think deeply about the realities we face. We need to respond to the newest challenges of globalism. A fortress-America approach will get us nowhere.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Creationism in any form isn't science

http://www.roanoke.com/editorials/commentary%5C14649.html

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Kurt Grosshans

Grosshans lives in Montgomery County.

A school district in rural Pennsylvania has decided to include creationism as an alternative scientific explanation to evolution in its science curriculum. Which form of creationism should the school system adopt?

"Biblical creationism" maintains that God created the universe, life and humanity as described in the Bible - that is, within a period of six days about 6,000 years ago. "Progressive creationism" states that God created the universe, life and humanity over billions of years. As various species evolved, God intervened periodically to give a helping hand.

"Theistic evolution" is considered by some the most liberal view. It maintains that about 3 billion years ago God created the universe and simple life forms. He then departed the scene, allowing evolution to take hold via natural selection.

But regardless of which creationism theory the school adopts, it will not meet the standard necessary to be considered a science. None of the three is testable. If they are not testable, they are not falsifiable. If they are not falsifiable, they violate a basic tenet of the scientific method, which is the backbone of scientific inquiry.

Science defines a theory as a set of propositions put forth to explain facts or observations. The scientific community establishes theories based upon the scientific method. One of the most important tenets of the scientific method is the idea of falsifiability.

Science begins the process by asking a question. For example: Does smoking cigarettes cause cancer? It then forms two hypotheses: Yes, smoking cigarettes causes cancer, and no, the null hypothesis, smoking cigarettes does not cause cancer. The null hypothesis, or the falsifiability aspect of the hypothesis, is what separates evolution from creationism.

At this time, science can show a direct link between smoking and lung cancer. However, there is nothing to say that it may later find there is no connection between smoking and lung cancer. In other words, the question is falsifiable.

The fundamental tenet of creationism is that God created the universe. To a creationist, this concept is not falsifiable. No one in the creationist camp believes that God did not create the universe. Therefore, creationism has no null hypothesis. If it has no null hypothesis, it can't be placed under the heading of a science.

The important distinction here is to not say that creationism is falsified. Science can't make that claim. However, creationism is not falsifiable, thus can't be considered a science, and has no place in the science curriculum.

Creationism vs. evolution

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/opinion/10310490.htm?1c

Posted on Wed, Dec. 01, 2004

Professor J. David Pleins's op-ed diatribe, ``Creation science isn't science at all'' (Nov. 26), is both amusing and sad. His hyperbole when urging any who don't agree with him ``to hit the books'' and ``don't be satisfied with creationist counterfeits,'' etc., etc., is insulting to both evolutionists and creationists.

Most creationists and others who present a case for intelligent design have studied evolution theory and found it wanting. The question becomes: What do the professor and fellow evolutionists fear from exposing students to another and different interpretation of the same scientific evidence?

Mary Thompson
Campbell

Data backs evolution

I strongly agree with the position taken by J. David Pleins. However, I would like to point out the inherent difference between science and religion. Science is based on data. Religion is based on people's beliefs.

Data backing up the theory of evolution is everywhere. For instance, bacteria that once were killed by certain types of antibiotics have evolved to become resistant to them.

Science books teach based on data. Since no data backs up any theory besides evolution, there should be no warning against it. Students should be encouraged to continue to gather and examine data.

Alex Mrozack
Los Altos

Atheism vs. science

It may well be true, as J. David Pleins states, that ``creation science misunderstands science.'' However, people who promote atheism in the name of science, like Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins, also misunderstand science. Science is a method, based on quantification and reason, whose limited goal is to find truths about the physical universe. It has nothing to say about whether physical reality is the only reality, or whether scientific truth is the only truth.

Let's not forget that many reputable scientists believe that the universe was created by God, as can be proved by a visit to the Web site of the American Scientific Affiliation at www.asa3.org.

Roger Bonilla
Sunnyvale

Evolution and Genesis

I have found that if one really reads what Genesis I says, disregarding how long a ``day'' might be, one will discover that it matches the current scientific theories of creation.

Day 1: There is light. Day 2: The Earth begins to form. The gases separate to form a core planet (Earth) and an atmosphere. Day 3: Dry ground appears, then vegetation. Day 4: The atmosphere thins to the point where the sun, moon and stars are visible as separate points of light. Day 5: Animal life begins, first in the sea. Then birds appear. Day 6: Animals appear on land. Finally there is man. Day 7: God rested.

Mary Jane Humphrey
Saratoga

"Deseret Draws Picture (Literally) of Attachment Therapy"

THE ISSUE:

The Deseret Morning News gives "Attachment (Holding) Therapy" proponents an opportunity to appeal for public support. But more is revealed than may help Attachment Therapists.

"Therapy or abuse? Controversial treatments may sink Cascade"
By Jesse Hyde
Deseret Morning News

http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,595108087,00.html

(DON'T MISS DIAGRAM OF "HOLDING THERAPY")

THE STORY:

Back in 2003, at the national ATTACh conference for Attachment Therapists in Pittsburgh, ATTACh's public relations consultant spoke with two women from Utah, one identifying herself as the office manager of the Cascade Center for Family Growth (Orem). The Utah women bragged how supporters of Cascade recently got an unsympathetic reporter removed from the local bureau for reporting which was unfavorable to Cascade. The PR consultant was pleased to hear it: "Good. So, you had an impact then." But the conversation revealed a desperation in Utah AT supporters about the controversy and their resolve to "blow it out of the water."

Fourteen months later, a change in attitude towards Attachment Therapy and the Cascade Center was noticeable at the Deseret Morning News. Previously critical of holding therapy on its editorial pages, the Deseret published a huge front-page story that gave a largely revisionist perspective on Cascade and AT.

Headlined "Therapy or Abuse?", the 4,000-word story presented glowing testimonials, a story of official harassment, color photographs, and one incredible graphic of "Holding Therapy."

It certainly must be no coincidence that the story appears just a month before two of Cascade's principals are scheduled to face a state licensure hearing on charges of abuse and substandard care. The *Deseret* story is replete with Cascade's owner's defenses for the charges against them. The state, of course, cannot comment.

The article nonetheless revealed more about Attachment Therapy -- especially how it is practiced in Utah -- than may have been in the interest of its supporters:

* An illustration entitled "Holding therapy -- How It Works" claims the technique supposedly "help[s] children release pent-up rage" and forces eye contact, both of which harken back to AT's "rage-reduction" roots. The illustration shows a floor hold, with an adult sitting alongside a child, pinning the child's arms to her sides.

* The same graphic highlights an intervention called "abdominal prodding," a dangerous technique that operates from the premise that emotions are stored in internal organs and that healing occurs when emotions, such as rage, are released by applying pressure to the organs.

* The story repeats the false statement that Utah County Attorney's Office cleared Cascade of any responsibility in the 2002 death of Cassandra Killpack in Springville, Utah. In truth, prosecutors have not charged Cascade or anyone at Cascade with criminal conduct in connection with that case. Cascade's culpability in the death, if any, will be an issue to be decided by a jury at next year's trial of Cassandra's parents.

* The story suggests that prosecutors believe Holding Therapy was used as a red herring in the 1995 (not 1997) death of another Utah adoptee, Krystal Tibbet. The record of that case suggests that Holding Therapy was very much central to that fatality. (See: http://www.childrenintherapy.org/victims/tibbets.html)

* The story repeats as fact Cascade's allegation in a pending lawsuit that a website, http://www.KidsComeFirst.info, has defamed Cascade by linking it to the deaths of children. That website has done nothing of the sort; it has only links to news stories and official documents, with hardly any commentary, and none at all mentioning Cascade or its operators by name, much less defamatorily. Cascade's lawsuit is being challenged under Utah's anti-SLAPP statute as an attempted abridgement of free speech.

* The Deseret story makes it clear that confrontational Holding Therapy continues to be actively used by Cascade therapists, much as they have done all along. However, in documents defending against the state's licensing charges, Cascade's operators claim that their techniques and interventions are different than in years past.

* In the story, one of Cascade's staunchest supporters claims that she has "books and books, boxes and boxes stacked in my basement of research on holding therapy." In fact, there is no valid research, as the *Deseret* reporter discovered and acknowledged earlier in the article.

Only about one-eighth of the article is devoted to criticism of holding therapy. Warns Matthew Speltz of the Child Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic at the University of Washington: "It's appealing to listen to a therapist who says the problem resides in the child, that there is something evil in them, and without serious intervention they will become the next Ted Bundy. The parents are as much a victim as the kids. They are desperate for help, and they are willing to consider anything; they are so vulnerable. ... These parents are easy marks for those who are selling an idea with no scientific validation."

Dr Jean Mercer agrees. She is a Professor of Psychology at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and advisor to AT NEWS. "Therapists use a checklist that has no scientific basis, and every kid with a history of abuse gets diagnosed with [Reactive Attachment Disorder]." She adds, "This idea that sitting on someone is the answer, it's just bizarre."

Anyone concerned with the spread of Attachment Therapy will find the Deseret's revelations about the practice of AT in Utah an eye opener. It is remarkable that AT supporters apparently think that disclosing what they do actually helps their case.

AT NEWS sends the latest news/opinions to activists and allied organizations about the many abusive, pseudoscientific, and violent practices inflicted on children by the fringe psychotherapy known as Attachment Therapy, aka "holding therapy" and "therapeutic parenting." Attachment Therapists claim to work with our nation's most vulnerable of children, e.g. minority children, children in foster care, and adoptees.

AT NEWS is the publication of *Advocates for Children in Therapy.*

For more information on Attachment Therapy and a film clip demonstrating AT, go to the Utah activists' site at http://www.kidscomefirst.info and ACT's website: http://www.childrenintherapy.org.

Contact: Linda Rosa, RN
Executive Director
Advocates for Children in Therapy
Loveland, CO
rosa@ezlink.com

Shark Cartilage Cancer "Cure" Shows Danger of Pseudoscience

Press release from Johns Hopkins University:

The rising popularity of shark cartilage extract as an anti-cancer treatment is a triumph of marketing and pseudoscience over reason, with a tragic fallout for both sharks and humans, according to a Johns Hopkins biologist writing in the Dec. 1 issue of Cancer Research.

"Since shark cartilage has been promoted as a cancer cure, not only has there has been a measurable decline in shark populations, but cancer patients also have been diverted from proven, effective treatments," said Gary K. Ostrander, a research professor in the departments of Biology and Comparative Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University.

In the paper, titled "Shark Cartilage, Cancer and the Growing Threat of Pseudoscience," Ostrander writes, "Crude shark cartilage is marketed as a cancer cure on the premise that sharks don't get cancer. That's not true, and the fact that people believe it is an illustration of just how harmful the public's irrationality can be."

In fact, Ostrander's paper details more than 40 examples of tumors in sharks and related species, dating back to the mid-1800s.

In the paper, Ostrander and a team of researchers from the Registry of Tumors in Lower Animals not only dissect what they call the "fallacious arguments" that have successfully convinced desperate cancer patients to purchase and ingest crude shark cartilage extract, but they also sound a "wake-up call" for society to become more scientifically literate and, thus, less vulnerable to skillfully mass-marketed illogical claims.

"People read on the Internet or hear on television that taking crude shark cartilage extract can cure them of cancer, and they believe it without demanding to see the science behind the claims," Ostrander said. "This shows how the electronic media has increased the potential harm of pseudoscience, turning what would otherwise be quaint cultural curiosities into potential serious societal and ecological problems. The only way to combat this is to ensure that government leaders and media professionals receive adequate scientific training based on reason, and that they also develop critical thinking skills."

Ostrander traces the popularity of crude shark cartilage as a cancer treatment and preventive measure to I. William Lane's 1992 book titled "Sharks Don't Get Cancer," which was further publicized by the CBS News program "60 Minutes" in 1993. Though Lane acknowledges in the book that sharks do, in fact, get cancer, he bases his advocacy of crude cartilage extracts on what Ostrander calls "overextensions" of some early experiments in which the substance seemed to inhibit tumor formation and the growth of new blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to malignancies.

"The fact is that it is possible that highly purified components of cartilage, including from sharks, may hold some benefit for treatment of human cancers," Ostrander said. "The key will be to isolate these compounds and design a way to deliver them to the site of the tumor. Lane and others ignore these existing barriers and suggest that consuming crude cartilage extracts by mouth or rectum could be curative of all cancers - an approach for which there is no scientific basis. It is worth noting that despite more than a decade of evaluation of shark cartilage, not a single controlled clinical study has established that it works as an anti-cancer agent."

The National Cancer Institute funded a portion of this work.

Physics News Update 699

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 699 September 3, 2004 by Phillip F. Schewe and Ben Stein

THE QUARK-MESON COUPLING (QMC) model, a theory which takes the radical step of incorporating self-consistent changes in the quark structure of a nucleon when it is bound in matter, has been transformed into a theory of quasi-nucleons interacting through many-body forces. Thanks to this, the QMC model can now challenge the time-honored descriptions of the nucleus where nucleon structure was supposed to play no role. The conventional hierarchy of nuclear matter at the smallest scale goes like this: quarks are the most elemental. Nucleons, the next bigger things, are clumps of three quarks held together by a force carried from place to place by gluons. Then the nucleus is made from nucleons held together by mesons, which are themselves clumps of two quarks. Next up in size are atoms, which consist of electrons (members of a separate category of particle called leptons) hovering around the nucleus.

At all these levels different models would apply. In other words, no one theory would apply everywhere; one would need instead several "effective theories" with limited validity outside their own realm. For instance, in experiments conducted at very high energies (many GeV)---equivalent to using a microscope able to see individual quarks inside the nucleons---it is customary to see nuclear physics as being a bunch of quarks interacting via the exchange of gluons. At lower energies, where the spatial resolution is lower (i.e., experimental studies are less able to resolve details inside the nucleon), one is apt to see nuclear physics as being a bunch of nucleons interacting via the exchange of mesons. Actually, even in the lower energy range, one should keep the quarks in mind because their motion inside a nucleon may change when the latter resides in a nucleus. That is, a nucleon is one thing when on its own and another thing when inside a nucleus, in which case it becomes a "quasi-nucleon."

This is what the QMC model takes into account by describing the interactions between a quark in one nucleon with a quark in another nucleon by meson exchange (see illustration at www.aip.org/png). The quarks in that nucleon are in turn interacting with the quarks in another and so on. The resulting picture of the nucleus is then that of quasi-nucleons interacting through forces which involve 2, 3, or even 4 bodies. The necessity of such many-body forces was empirically known from traditional nuclear physics and the merit of the QMC model is that it explains their origin and predicts their intensity. This makes for a more realistic description, particularly for the border area between higher energy (a province sometimes called particle physics) and lower energy (to which the generic term "nuclear physics" applies). The QMC theory has stood up to experimental tests for some years now. For example, it has been helpful in explaining changes in hadron masses in dense matter and there are even hints from extremely precise measurements of the ratio of electric to magnetic form factors of a proton bound in helium (at Mainz and Jefferson Lab) supporting the subtle changes predicted there. Now, the authors of the QMC model, Pierre Guichon (Saclay, France) and Tony Thomas (Adelaide, Australia --- now Chief Scientist at Jefferson Lab), believe the newer version of their model will really help in interpreting data coming from heavy-ion collision experiments aiming to create a quark-gluon plasma state. (Physical Review Letters, upcoming article; pguichon@cea.fr, 33-1690-87207)

NEW EVIDENCE FOR A SUPERFLUID SOLID. In January 2004, two physicists at Penn State presented the results of an experiment in which at very low temperatures one solid (solidified helium-4) passed through another solid (a glasslike material called vycor) without any friction (www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/669-1.html). Now, the same researchers, Moses Chan (chan@phys.psu.edu) and Eun-Seong Kim, have modified their approach to demonstrate "superflow," the superfluid-like behavior of a solid, in a new way. This time, the solidified helium is not ensconced in any glass matrix. The He atoms are admitted to an open ring-shaped channel in a simple chamber which is free to swivel. Next the He are chilled and submitted to high pressure, causing solidification. One can tell that the helium at this point is solid and not liquid because of the characteristic oscillation (swiveling) properties. At an even lower temperature, 230 mK, the swiveling changes again, suggesting to Chan and Kim that a portion of the solid (about 1.5% of the sample) has metamorphosed into a freely flowing---but still solid---state of matter, or a frictionless "supersolid." (Science Express, 3 September.)

PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE is a digest of physics news items arising from physics meetings, physics journals, newspapers and magazines, and other news sources. It is provided free of charge as a way of broadly disseminating information about physics and physicists. For that reason, you are free to post it, if you like, where others can read it, providing only that you credit AIP. Physics News Update appears approximately once a week.


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